The Cayman Islands is now at a crossroads in our social, political and economic history. Our success as a nation and a people depends on which road we take today. The stability and security of our country and the prosperity of this and succeeding generations beckon us to make the right choices at this time in the ordering of our society.
I feel compelled to make this point against the background of a declaration by the new leader of the Opposition PPM that he and his party have embarked, or will be embarking, on a political campaign for the next general election, which is due in May, 2013, some 27 months from now.
I raise this issue only because of the grave implications such a declaration holds for the stability of the economy of the Cayman Islands, still engulfed in the throes of the worst recession the world has witnessed in some 80 years.
The response on this matter is essential because at stake is the recovery, survival and development of our economy.
At this delicate juncture in our history and development we must take the high road of national unity, reconciliation, economic reconstruction, social renewal and international respect that is the platform and emerging legacy of the UDP Administration that I have the honour to lead at this time.
The pronouncement that the PPM will be immediately embarking on a political campaign to regain power 27 months before an election is due, and a mere 21 months after Caymanians exercised their democratic right and selected the Government of their choice is unfortunate.
Are we to plunge our country into a protracted period of electioneering and all its negative and disruptive manifestations that will surely distract our attention from the important work we must do at this critical time? Are the people of the Cayman Islands to sacrifice the fruitful gains of economic recovery, employment creation and rebounding business and investor confidence?
To these questions, I can hear a resounding NO echoing from George Town to Rum Point, from West End to Spot Bay, from South Sound to West Bay, from East End to Blossom Point.
Our people are confronted with a stubborn economic recession and real challenges to employment. As a new Government, we have inherited real intractable threats to our people enjoying a decent standard to living, and to their personal safety and the security of the nation.
Faced with these challenges, people all over the world are rejecting political expediency and empty promises for mature governance that is accountable, participatory and which delivers practical economic and social gains.
People are tired of the kind of politics that concerns itself first and foremost with the fortunes of one political group and not with the interest of all the people they seek to represent. Political and electoral apathy is growing here in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere in the Caribbean and the world, because of politicians who continue to parade their selfish egos ahead of the real problems of their country.
Those of us here in Cayman cannot afford to feed this growing disenchantment by succumbing to the politics of partisan selfishness at the expense of national solidarity and unity of purpose.
Like in the Cayman Islands, elections are due in 2013 in many constitutional democracies around the world. Despite that, we have not heard of opposition parties launching two year-long election campaigns in Barbados, Germany, Malaysia, Australia, the Philippines, Albania, Armenia or Czechoslovakia – all countries with elections slated for 2013.
After less than two years of the UDP Government talking office our country is once again moving in the right direction. We realise that people are still hurting – unacceptable levels of unemployment still exists, and now is no time for the Government to be distracted from continuing to turn the country around by an election campaign by the opposition.
We have made tremendous gains in a time when it is the most difficult to do so…
We are creating jobs.
Tourism is on the rebound because of the policies of the government led by the UDP.
The administration is developing a new cruise berthing facility to accommodate the newer class of mega ships.
A new hospital development is under way to promote medical tourism.
The Government is advancing the development of a free trade zone focusing on cutting edge bio-technology and information technology as an example of the visionary policies and programmes required to grow our economy.
The administration that I lead has embarked on a programme of divestment of the physical infrastructure. This is creating investment opportunities even as we ensure better management of these facilities and utilise our national assets.
The advances we are pursuing for the country include the development of a new waste to energy project that will serve this and future generations of Caymanians.
And we have constructed 30 affordable houses.
There is too much at stake in terms of the forward movement of our country and the development of our people to risk a return to economic instability.
The eyes of the world are upon us and we must ensure that we secure and preserve the stability and progress for which the Cayman Islands have become known and respected.
I urge all citizens and residents of our country to reject once and for all, the politics of division, the politics of expediency and politics that seeks to tear down rather than to build.
I want to ask Caymanians and all residents, no matter how long you have been here, to embrace a campaign of national cohesion and a movement of national social and economic reconstruction.
I believe firmly that at this time, the first loyalty and the primary allegiance of every individual should be to the country and not to any political party. The nation should be the central principle of political organisation. That is certainly the central principle of the UDP.
Let us all put the interests of the Cayman Islands and its people first. God Bless the Cayman Islands.
Premier McKeeva Bush